Since February 2020, we’ve been conducting continuous, comprehensive analysis of the digital public sphere for English-language conversations related to COVID-19 and vaccines across global geographies—including social media, news, forums, blogs, and other public digital communities—parsing through more than 100 million results, with more than 33.5 million unique visitors Located in the United States of America.
As has been fully established, threat actors are profiting from the pandemic in underground markets. Our threat intelligence teams have discovered actual and fraudulent vaccines, as well as false vaccine certificates, for sale on underground markets like “Liberty Market” and “Televend,” as well as Telegram channels. Earlier this year, the WHO convened a news conference to address this issue, warning that “certain fraudulent goods are also being offered as COVID-19 vaccinations on the internet, notably on the dark web.” WHO went on to explain that it was aware of health ministries and regulatory authorities around the world “Suspicious offers to supply COVID-19 vaccines have been received.”
Fortunately, the majority of narratives are pro-vaccine, yet hesitancy-related and outright anti-vaccine narratives have the potential to spread widely due to the scale and reach of the internet. Anti-vaccine materials and messages are produced with a high frequency of activity by Internet users and communities.
Criminal conduct involving the COVID-19 vaccinations has been targeted by drug companies and law enforcement. “We’ve never seen so much fraud, misinformation, and schemes,” said Steve Francis, head of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
Criminal gangs are profiting from today’s global crises, prospering in an atmosphere where knowledge is freely available and has real-world consequences for public health. Experts have consistently warned about the security concerns posed by the COVID-19 vaccination launch, and we’ve personally witnessed the effects on the digital information ecosystem.
Misinformation and disinformation, as well as explicit vaccine-related crime, are all important issues during a period of worldwide recovery, and the mitigation and management of this “infodemic” is crucial to making much-needed progress in defeating the pandemic.
As professionals in digital risk protection, cyber intelligence, and cybersecurity continue to observe and evaluate cybercrime activities at this uncertain period, it’s critical to raise worldwide awareness about these patterns and assist in decreasing the risks that come with them. This starts with understanding and operationalizing the indicators of abnormal or aberrant activity, which can be learned from dialogues.